Prototyping and Its Advantages in Product Development and Manufacturing
24 January 2020
Mass-produced parts somehow retain intricate details and engineering-grade dimensional tolerances. Just as impressively, the complex parts are made of just the right alloys and are made to suit a client’s specs. Let’s just say that, like every other fabrication service, nothing has been left to chance here. In reality, multiple iterations may have been tried out during the prototype stage until just the right mix of parts dimensions and materials was decided upon.
The Client Design Stage ofthe Manufacturing Process
One of the most important parts of a fabrication shop’s duties is to know what a client wants. Granted, a customer may have a working model, one that’s drawn to scale on a piece of paper. If this is an engineering service, the sketch might even have been run through a 3D software program. In that case, the model can be sent to the manufacturer as an email attachment. From here, sketch or 3D model, it’s the job of the fabrication service to come up with a working prototype.
The Service-Oriented Contributory Phase
Here’s where a powerful 3D design package makes things easier to manage. By applying the profile of a part to the 3D program, a rapid prototyping enterprise is implemented. The initial model is run through simulations, then a preliminary iteration is constructed. Accelerating the development phase, the concept model is made into a ceramic or thermoplastic real-world part. The point is, these materials are affordable, yet they can be cut by modern CAD equipment into exacting shapes. After all, a prototype isn’t meant to last. That’s the job for the final production-run grade model. But what if the prototype doesn’t live up to expectations?
Realizing Rapid Prototyping Realities
That’s just the physical world making itself known; it’s an anticipated part of the process. In point of fact, 3D CAD programs integrate workflows that are expressly intended as ways of facilitating the developmental operations that go on during prototyping work. Material changes are quick to be implemented, plus changes to the part’s dimensions flow through the model, all thanks to the software’s mock-up features, so there’s no need to go back to square one. Essentially, a client can order as many component iterations as he can afford. And, since this is a short-run project, one that can be done via an industrial 3D printer, the expenses incurred shouldn’t be too difficult to offset.
Using conventional CAD workstations, CNC tools and 3D modelling software, rapid prototyping work has become a breeze. For highly customized parts or components that are no longer available from the manufacturer, prototyping services provide yet another avenue of client satisfaction. There’s the choice to design a part from scratch, a part that can then go into full production in no time at all. Alternatively, a tailored component or an out-of-production part can be made from scratch using the same CAD gear and CNC tools.
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